Winter in Europe

Sep 3rd, 2007, 09:41 AM
  #1  
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Winter in Europe

My boyfriend and I are planning our first trip to Europe this Winter, December 26- January 7. Our itinerary includes 3 days in Rome, 3 days in Florence (for New Years), a day in Milan (just to walk around before our next train), 2 1/2 days in Switzerland and 2 days in Paris.

We were supposed to go to Lucerne but noticing how it would be pulling us away from Paris we are thinking about going to Geneva instead. I've been reading about great day trips to Gruyere and Montreux but does anyone know how these are in the winter? I would love to go to a winery but I'm not sure if they have tours this time of year. I also looked up the Swiss Chocolate Train and I was disappointed to find that it is only in operation during the Summer months. We are both interested in historical or cultural attractions as well as nightlife but wouldn't mind taking it easy during this leg of the trip. We are in our early 20s and open to any suggestions of day trips, places to go within Geneva or any other cities/ towns we should consider instead of Geneva, en route from Florence to Paris.

I am also slightly concerned about the weather in Europe during the end of December/ early January has anyone been there around that time of year? What is it like then? Thanks!
Jenn_ is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 09:59 AM
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Well - it's winter in a temperate climate. While Switzerland/mountains will be cold and you may well get snow, it likely won;t be so cold in Paris (more like DC). Rome and Florence will also not be SO cold - but obviously it's variable year by year. You can get snow it Rome - but more likely to be a high of around 50 or so.
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 10:03 AM
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With the possible exception of Rome, be prepared for chilly weather. Obviously. In my opinion, city tourism doesn't suffer much in the winter, as there are many places one can pop into for a coffee, museums to enjoy, etc. The countryside, unless you are into winter sports, will be a big letdown. You will very likely have gray skies, blustery wind, and monocromatic landscapes, whereas in the summer, the landscape is like something out of Heidi.

I have been to both Lucerne and Geneva, but not to any other towns on Lake Geneva. I like Lucerne about 1000 times more than Geneva. Lucerne is picturesque, right in the mountains, with fantastic churches, a great Saturday market, and a lovely "feel." Geneva is quite sterile by comparison. The lakefront is bland and the mountains quite far in the distance. I did enjoy the Musee Petit Palais in Geneva, but not much else. Hope that helps.
Cimbrone is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 10:41 AM
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Winter is rarely as cold as people expect, except in mountain resorts.

Last winter, temperature dropped below freezing at night for a grand total of 4 days in Paris (true, in the suburbs, it freezes much more).

Of course, even without freezing temperatures, the weather can be miserable when it wants to.
kerouac is online now  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 11:27 AM
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The most miserable weather conditions, which you are likely to meet, are temperatures slightly ABOVE zero, rain and strong wind. This is much worse than freezing temperatures.
quokka is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 11:32 AM
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Winter Italy day vs Winter Spain day is a winner for visiting Spain. For reason Spain has much better winters.

Within Switzerland, I love Lucern. But it's really cold in the winter time. Humid doesn't really give all of the misery along the water in Lucern.

I've had Christmas meals at 25 degrees in Cadiz. I've spent Rome, Naples and Latina all in Christmas. It will never compete with the Spanish Christmases.

Blackduff
blackduff is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 12:03 PM
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I was in Europe last year at that time. Milan, Paris, and Barcelona were mild. Vienna and Prague were OK. Krakow and Warsaw reminded me of Napolean's retreat from Moscow.

Dress in layers. No heavy stuff. Get good walkers with heavy duty rubber soles.

I would shoot through Switzerland north from Milan to and through Zurich or Basel, not Geneva. Fantastic scenery. Take a day train.

Max your time in Paris. You'll never have enough time there. Go for the Left Bank, 5th or 6th. Student area.

hopscotch is offline  
Nov 5th, 2007, 03:33 AM
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For an 11-12 day trip, you might want to cut one destination out. The travel time to and from the various places will really cut into your day. How about 3 days Rome, 3 days Florence, most of one travel day between Florence and Paris, and the rest in Paris?
flygirl is offline  
Nov 5th, 2007, 03:39 AM
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Lucerne is much more picturesque than Ganeva although along Lac Leman, especially in that microclimate of Montreux, the weather would probably be a bit milder.

There are PALM TREES in Montreux!!!

You can get there easily by rail from Italy through the Simplon Tunnel and Brig. other than toruing the Chillon castle and a possible trip up the spectacular rack railway above Montreux to Rochers de Naye I would tell you to skip Switzerland entirely and spend the four days or so in Paris itself.

You could either fly from Italy on a budget flight or take a TGV from Milan.
Dukey is offline  
Nov 5th, 2007, 05:34 AM
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If you go to the following website:
http://www.wunderground.com/tripplanner/index.asp
you can enter the city that you intend visiting as well as the period that you will be there (i.e. dates and month) and it will give you a summary of the historical weather for that city on those specific days for the previous 10 years.
BazzaK is offline  
Nov 5th, 2007, 05:41 AM
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Hi Jenn,

I've visited Montreux in late Nov, in Dec, and in March, and it's just delightful then. You'll have the promenade mostly to yourself, and you'll see the local matrons walking their terriers instead of the throngs of tourists licking up ice cream. Yes, it's generally warmer there than in Luzern.

If you do decide to see Montreux this winter, you can still do the individual parts of the Chocolate Train on your own.

The first step is the train to Gruyeres, which, yes, is delightful in winter. There will be far fewer tourists, so you can stroll the ancient cobbled streets and the castle almost on your own. The only downside will be having to eat inside when it's time for lunch -- but your fondue or raclette will warm you up nicely!

Then take the bus on to Broc and see the Cailler factory. I'm not sure what their tour hours are for winter, but you can find it at www.cailler.ch.

You can get the train schedules and fares at the Swiss Rail site,

www.rail.ch

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Nov 5th, 2007, 09:41 AM
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jay
 
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We have don Rome, Florence, Milan and Paris in the winter. As others have written, Be prepared for cold weather but not too bad. Rome was ok for fleece as was Florence. Milan was pretty cold and Paris was windy. Bring fleece, and be prepared for wind. Also bring some waterproof shoes as it snowed 6" in Florence when we were there. I would skip Sw and go to Paris. But that is just my opinion.
jay is offline  
Nov 5th, 2007, 11:35 AM
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In my opinion there is "no bad weather, only bad clothing."

I think you are already half way there to enjoy your stay weather wise, as you have asked this question

If your going to a cold place like the mountains of Switzerland, I would definitive bring wool. The best is to keep the layers thin.

(Don't bring just one really thick sweater, and think you will be warm. Rather two very thin "underwear like" sweaters, and dont forget pantyhose)

Then you cover those layers with something wind and waterproof. Consider goretex clothing. (It does come in rather smart coats, jackets and even nicelooking shoes) But that is expensive...



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